Washington briefing: Turkey still weighing nuclear power plans

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday October 18, 2008

Washington -

The Turkish government is seeking to build two nuclear power plants - a long-delayed one at Akkuyu near the Mediterranean port of Mersin, and another near the Black Sea port of Sinop, the Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor (EDM) reported on October 10, citing Turkish media.

Although 13 consortia expressed interest in Akkuyu as the tender was announced earlier this year, only one - a joint venture between the Russian state-owned Atomstroyexport and the Turkish Ciner Group - submitted a formal bid before the deadline last month. Other companies have expressed reservations about the project's conditions, which the Turkish government has declined to renegotiate.

The Turkish government will decide whether to accept the sole Russian bid before the end of October. Russia currently supplies two-thirds of the natural gas and one-third of the oil consumed by Turkey.

According to EDM, "the general consensus in Turkey is that the AKP will eventually have to cancel the nuclear power tender" in part over concerns that the United States will perceive the project's award to Russia as another sign of Turkey distancing from the West. AKP is the abbreviation by which Turkey's governing party is known.

Turkish officials have for now pledged to continue with the tender process. Energy Minister Hilmi Guler conceded, however, that "the global financial crisis will affect large investments," including possibly nuclear plant plans.

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